James Mann, longtime analyst of Sino-US relations, has written a new book, The China Fantasy: How Our Leaders Explain Away Chinese Repression, in which he plays the role of an observer attempting to prick our collective conscience and ask whether the US is committing an error in judgment through its policy of engagement with China.
Mann's book, short though it is, will not be found lacking for its ability to upset many people's apple carts. The assertion of his book is more a question than a point, and in walking the fine line between the two, he is able to avoid the predictable assertions about China's imminent economic rise, or its inevitable collapse, or its democratic future. Mann wants us to ask ourselves the following question: "What if China manages to continue on its current economic path, yet its political system does not change in any fundamental way? ... What if, in other words, China becomes fully integrated into the world's economy, yet it remains also entirely undemocratic?" [Full text]